Buying a house without a Realtor


I confess my husband and I bought our first home without a Realtor. Actually we thought we bought our house without a Realtor but we really did not.  It was  Realtor who showed us the house and wrote an offer.  She worked for the seller and we did not understand “agency”. 

We never had a home inspection.  When we asked the agent about it she said we did not need an inspection because the city had already inspected it.  That is just wrong.  Buyers should  make inspection contingent offers.  The city truth in housing report or code compliance is not the same as a buyers inspection.  Maybe if we had an inspection we would have known that the contractor took a few short cuts and that the seller made some claims that were not true.  Maybe we could have gotten the seller to fix a few things before we moved in. 

The reason we were working without an agent was because we did not understand that buyers could have their own agent and that having an agent does not make home buying more expensive.  We did not know about broker reciprocity which makes it easy for any real estate agent to show a buyer any home on the market.  

We did not want to bother anyone we just wanted to see houses.  We went to open houses and we called the phone numbers on the for sale signs.  This was all before homes for sale could easily be found on the internet. 

Today with all the information on the internet it is easier to buy a home without an agent than it used to be but buyers who are working with agents have an advantage in a today’s sellers markets.  

Buyers who are working with agents get a lot of help knowing about homes for sale early on before they have multiple offers on them and an offer from an agent may have more credibility than an offer directly from a buyer in a multiple offer situation because serious home buyers are pre-apporved by a lender and working with an agent.  Buyers can engage in “dual agency” and have the listing agent help them make an offer but that agent can not negotiate on their behalf.  

Sometimes buyers believe that they will save money if they do not work with an agent. Usually the seller pays commissions and either the seller comes out ahead with a lower commission or the listing agent gets it all because there is no buyers agent to pay.   Buyers who represent themselves should ask for some kind of a discount.  It is probably better for buyers to represent themselves than to work with an inexperienced agent or one who doesn’t do a good job. 

I used to think that one day the internet would replace real estate agents but it isn’t happening because the web sites are supported by agent dollars.  Trulia and Zillow are supported by agents who advertise. 

Also see: 

Agency and Dual Agency

Broker Reciprocity

Frustrated because your inquiry isn’t being answered

Real estate is local, search your state department of commerce to learn about real estate and agency in your state. 

Agency and Dual Agency

An exciting topic in real estate and one that is often misunderstood by consumers who think there is an advantage in buying a home through the agent at the open house.  That agent represents the seller.  


This post is a kind of public service message that I like to run once a year. 

Today is the day.  This applies to Minnesota, real estate is locally regulated so it may not work the same way in other  states.  There are five kinds of agency relationships in real estate recognized by the state of Minnesota:

  1. Seller’s Agent: representing and acting for the seller only. May be a listing agent, or any REALTOR® licensed to the listing broker, or a selling subagent.

  2. Subagent: a broker or salesperson who is working with a buyer, but represents the seller.

  3. Buyer’s Agent: representing and acting for the buyer only. As with a listing contract with sellers, an agreement for buyer representation must be in writing.

  4. Dual Agent: one licensee representing both the seller and the buyer as clients in one transaction, or two agents licensed to the same broker, one of whom represents the seller and one of whom represents the buyer in one transaction. This requires  full disclosure and informed consent of both parties. Dual agents have a limited role, must not advocate or negotiate for either party, and must not act to the detriment of either party.

  5. Facilitator: a real estate licensee who works for a buyer, a seller or both in a transaction but does not represent either in a fiduciary capacity as a Buyer’s Broker, Seller’s Broker or Dual Agent. Facilitators may perform services for consumers, but do not represent them. Facilitators are bound by license law and common law, but owe only the fiduciary duty of confidentiality unless other fiduciary duties are agreed to between licensee and consumer.

Buyers and sellers both like to ask if I am a buyers agent, or a sellers agent.  Some of these conversations have revealed some mis-information about dual agency.   Dual agency happens only when an agent, or the agents broker, or more than one of the brokers agents  are working on behalf of that broker and representing both parties in the same transaction.

I am both a buyers agent and a sellers agent.   I encounter situations where I am asked to play both roles in a single transaction.   I have represented both parties in a transaction but I prefer not to.   Dual agency is a bit different in than buyers agency or sellers agency in that the agent can not advocate or negotiate for either party.  Takes the fun out of it for me, and I still believe that both parties are better off if they each have their own agent.

As an agent I find that my experience as a buyers agent and as a sellers agent helps me with both roles.  When it comes to negotiating an offer no matter which side I am representing I have a clear understanding of what the other party might want, or how they might be feeling about it all. 

Real estate is about people and buying or selling property is a large and important transaction, and there are always emotions involved.  Having experience with sellers helps me advise buyers and having experience with buyers helps me advise sellers and understand how to market their home.  I can see the home through the buyers eyes, just as I can see the buyers offer from the sellers point of view.

If I were choosing an agent I would not consider it an advantage to work with an agent that is not representing both parties in the transaction.    I would consider it an advantage to have my own agent representing my best interests instead of an agent who is operating in the dual agency role and representing both parties.  Like it says above:  

“Dual agents have a limited role, must not advocate or negotiate for either party, and must not act to the detriment of either party.”

Buyers who go from open house to open house or the agent listed on each sign, to see each home,  run the risk of working with an agent in a dual role.  Get your own agent. There is still a myth out there that agents can only show their own listings.  We can show any home listed in the MLS, this is called “broker reciprocity“.  It helps sellers because all agents are working to sell their home and it helps buyers because they can work with any agent from any company to buy any piece of real estate.

Competition for buyers


It is a buyers market and has been for a few years now but and there is always a but . . buyers have gotten too complacent and sometimes the home they really want gets away.  The best homes at the most competitive prices still sell very quickly.   Some in just a couple of days.  Buyers who have found the right home should not wait and see if the price comes down, they should make an offer now.  It doesn’t need to be a full price offer. 

Every year I work with at least one buyer who lets the home they really want get away. It happens when we are in a sellers market and when we are in a buyers market.